Celtic become Scotland's first UEFA Europa Conference League participants and welcome one of the group stage surprise packages, Norwegian champions Bodø/Glimt.
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Celtic become Scotland's first participants in the UEFA Europa Conference League proper as they play host in the first leg of the knockout round play-offs to one of the surprise packages of the competition's group stage, Norwegian champions Bodø/Glimt.
• The Glasgow giants won three and lost three of their UEFA Europa League group games during the autumn and were confirmed in third place after a 3-2 defeat at section winners Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 5. Bodø/Glimt, meanwhile, went unbeaten through their UEFA Europa Conference League group, yet their 12-point tally was only sufficient to give them the runners-up spot behind Roma, sensationally beaten 6-1 by Kjetil Knutsen's side in the Arctic Circle on Matchday 3.
• While this is Bodø/Glimt's first official meeting with a Scottish club, Celtic have played 12 times previously against Norwegian opposition, ten of those games against Rosenborg including the last six, all in the past five years.
• Celtic's overall record against Norwegian sides is W7 D2 L3. At home it is W4 D1 L1, the only defeat coming against Molde (1-2) in the group stage of the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League when the Scottish club were led by Norwegian coach Ronny Deila. The Bhoys are unbeaten, home and away, in six subsequent matches against Rosenborg and have won all three of their two-legged knockout ties against the Trondheim club.
• Celtic missed out on an unprecedented tenth successive Scottish league title last season, finishing 25 points adrift of arch-rivals Rangers as Premiership runners-up. Their European campaign ended in the UEFA Europa League group stage, where they came bottom of a section including AC Milan, LOSC Lille and Sparta Praha.
• This term, under new manager Ange Postecoglou, Celtic were unable to negotiate the UEFA Champions League qualifying phase for the fourth successive summer, losing to Midtjylland in the second qualifying round, but subsequent UEFA Europa League qualifying victories over Jablonec and AZ Alkmaar put them into the competition's group stage for the eighth time. There they recovered from defeats in their opening two matches – 3-4 at Real Betis and 0-4 at home to Leverkusen – to beat Ferencváros home (2-0) and away (3-2), but a second defeat by the German side meant their closing 3-2 home win against Betis was academic, with third place already confirmed.
• Celtic have won five of their last seven European home games (D1 L1) but just one of their last seven in spring knockout ties (D2 L4), losing the two most recent – 0-2 against Valencia in 2018/19 and 1-3 against FC Copenhagen 12 months later, both in the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
• Champions of Norway for the first time in 2020, when they stormed to victory by 19 points, Bodø/Glimt made their debut in a UEFA group stage during the autumn as well as successfully defending their domestic title. This season's European campaign, in which this is their 15th match, is the longest in the club's history.
• After concluding their first European adventure for 16 years in last season's UEFA Europa League with a 3-2 defeat away to Milan in the third qualifying round, Knutsen's side lost this season's UEFA Champions League first qualifying round tie to Legia Warszawa, but subsequently eliminated Valur, Prishtina and Žalgiris Vilnius to reach the UEFA Europa Conference League group stage, where they were one of the standout teams, winning all three home games – including that astonishing victory against Roma – and drawing all three away, though failure to win at Zorya Luhansk on Matchday 6 enabled the Italian club to leapfrog them to the top of the final standings.
• A 3-0 win at Valur on their UEFA Europa Conference League debut is Bodø/Glimt's only victory in their ten European away games this century (D4 L5), although the draws have all come in the last four.
UEFA Europa Conference League squad changes
In: Reo Hatate (Kawasaki Frontale), Daizen Maeda (Yokohama F Marinos, loan), Matt O'Riley (MK Dons)
Out: Ewan Henderson (Hibernian, loan), Kerr McInroy (Ayr United, loan), Adam Montgomery (Aberdeen, loan), Brody Paterson (Airdrieonians, loan), Liam Shaw (Motherwell, loan), Ismaila Soro, Osaze Urhoghide (Oostende, loan)
Links and trivia
• Eight clubs made their European group stage debut in the UEFA Europa Conference League this season, but Bodø/Glimt are one of only two to have made it through to the knockout phase, along with Group D runners-up Randers. The Norwegian side had the most points of all eight second-placed teams (12) and were the only runners-up to qualify undefeated.
• Celtic had the worst defensive record in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage with 15 goals conceded in their six games.
• Bodø/Glimt are one of two reigning domestic champions participating in the UEFA Europa Conference League knockout round play-offs, the other 2020/21 Czech double winners Slavia Praha.